The back end led the way in middle market digitization. Now marketers can help their teams improve customer-facing digital offerings.
Purchase decisions large and small are happening digitally. Potential homeowners often start their searches on websites like Redfin. Those in the market for a teapot may comparison shop on Amazon. With so much of the customer journey happening on the web, it stands to reason that digitizing a company’s customer-facing services is the marketing team’s responsibility. Not always so, according to a report from the National Center for the Middle Market, “Digitizing the Customer Experience: Are We There Yet?,” which explores how digitization has affected the customer experience.
“When we asked which executives have the most responsibility for the digitization of the customer experience, we found that twice as many people said the CIO is in charge than said the CMO is in charge,” reports Thomas Stewart, executive director for the National Center for the Middle Market. “When you ask them who’s in charge of customer experience, they might say CMO or head of sales, but if you ask them about the digitization of the customer experience, that’s still more likely to be in the IT department than the marketing department.”
NCMM previously studied the state of digitization in midsize companies in 2015, finding firms had made more progress digitizing back-office functions than customer-facing activities. The new report found that 34% of middle market companies say customer experience is a critical part of corporate strategy, and these organizations are the most likely to invest heavily in related digitization tools. Digitally strategic firms—defined in the study as those with a clear digital strategy that directs their investment in the digital consumer experience—also report 10% year-over-year revenue growth and 4.6% year-over-year employment growth, compared with 4.7% revenue growth and 2.7% employment growth at nondigital firms.